49 Unforgettable Experiences Traveling to India

12:00:00 PM Jerik De Guzman 28 Comments





There's no place like India. And anyone daring to travel around this huge country, err more like a continent, will be rewarded with experiences that will be so damn unforgettable. What you see on TV, read in the news and other blogs shared by travelers are probably all true. I reckon it would be times three, once you've successfully set foot in this gorgeous country.

Before i preempt myself with any introduction, let me share with you, based from my experiences, 49 things you have to know (you'll be glad i shared this with you) about India. Hopefully, this will help you out as you plan on this great journey to this exotic, blessed and life-changing hideaway.

1. Cover up. This is my biggest boo-boo when i went to India. I am a guy and i find myself wearing wife beaters and short pants to think it would be okay. Apparently, both genders should show courtesy by wearing proper clothing. That means covering up, and showing less skin.

2. Cow. These animals are considered holy and aren't consumed by men. Imagine my surprise when i ordered for a cheeseburger, and only to realize after a first bite, that it was sweet potato. Such a disappointment.

3. To spit or not to spit. Men, women of all ages and other differences have a weird habit of spitting. I reckon it has something to do with the unbelievable supply of air pollution. After a few days, i found myself doing the same thing, but in moderation. As they say, Do as the Romans do.

4. The air. It's toxic and almost impossible for a non-local with weak respiratory system to stay healthy after a few days. Should you feel uneasy, go seek the help of a doctor or move out of the city.

5. Entrance fee tickets. Apparently, the biggest surprise is that entrance fee tickets to national parks and other tourist spots are a bit expensive for Asian standards. While for locals, it's ridiculously too cheap. It's like paying nothing. I was almost close to pretending to be a local as the guard was telling me only 10 rupees. even if i was suppose to pay 300 rupees. 

6. Kohl. An old man in Varanasi painted the thin skin under my eye with a black paint. He said, "it'll give you more strength in the eye. Now, you look like us."

7. Auto Rickshaws are cheap but can be costly too as most drivers wouldn't have a fixed rate unless it's metered. 

8. My bargaining skills suck. Why? How can you pay an old, sickly man 20 rupees after cycling for more than 30 minutes. I bargained for 20 rupees, and ended up paying 60. At least, my conscience is clear.

9. The traffic is super bad. I thought Manila traffic was unforgivable. Wait till you see Varanasi and New Delhi around 5:30PM rush hour. It's unimaginable!

10. Who knows the time? On many occasions, i tend to ask around 3-4 bystanders for the time. And on those occasions, i got different answers.

11. If you're not a fan of Indian cuisine, you'll lose weight.

12. I don't drink coffee, and i am not a fan of tea but Cha is one of the most beautiful creations in the world, ever. I drink Cha anytime, anywhere.

13. A hand of bananas is sold nearby train stations for 15 rupees. For serious backpackers, this is one tip to save those rupees.

14. Bring an alcohol or hand sanitizer for the simple reason, you will surely need it all the time and every time. 

15. VISA upon arrival for Filipinos and other nationalities like Finland, Luxembourg, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. But be prepared to dance or sing if asked by the immigration officials. Of course, i'm not saying this literally but you know what i mean.

16. Best time to visit is from November to February because it's not too hot, and the temperature is perfect for long walks all day and night.



17. Wear a scarf! In many different ways you'll get by with a scarf. Cover your neck and arms when visiting a temple, cover the head when visiting Sikh palaces, and cover your nose and mouth when it's just too damn hard to take the pollution.

18. Study Hinduism before you travel to India. You will appreciate more what you see, hear and listen.

19. Bollywood rocks! It's funny, romantic and most of the time, engaging. Most of my nights are spent watching these movies shown on TV. I usually doze off after an hour.

20. If you're a lady, never ever leave India without buying a Sari. It's impossible for you not to like one. It's probably one of the most beautiful things you will ever see in your life.

21. When riding sleeper trains, don't get the AC sleeper. Get the non-AC, as it's cheaper and you get to hang out with much more friendly locals.

22. Tourist Quotas make life easier for lost travelers riding the trains. Should you want to leave as soon as you arrive, go to one in any train station and immediately book a ticket to avoid hassle.

23. Kuri-Kuro is my most favorite junk food ever.

24. It's possible to haggle Camel leather sandals in Jaipur from 1500 rupees to 300 rupees. 

25. Over-all, most of the people i dealt money with including travel agents and rickshaw drivers are all honest people. Don't believe what you hear or read about them.

26. India is easily the most unified country in the world, in terms of religion. That is something i can honestly say is one of the country's best attribute.

27. What you read about India and its Caste system: the poor, average and the rich is true. It's frustrating and unapologetic. But it's reality.

28. You don't need to be a historian, cultured or a devotee to appreciate that indeed, Taj Mahal is the most beautiful thing ever created by man, in the world.

29. Palace of the Winds or Hawa Mahal in Jaipur makes you want to go back again and again.

30. English is widely spoken in key cities like New Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore but not everywhere.

31. Please bring a universal adaptor. You will need it.

32. I didn't see any Mc Donald's or Burger king but there are fast food joints around New Delhi that serve good food for less than 150 rupees.

33. I've tried many cigarettes in India and i can honestly say, i coughed as soon as i smoked one. Not good, my friend.

34. Never ever do drugs in India. You can't trust your supplier for sure.



35. I was surprised that parks around Jaipur are beautiful: well-manicured gardens, comfortable art deco love seats and well-manned.

36. Running as a sport is possible in key areas around Rajastan.

37. Kids in India have simple joys. Don't forget to share what you have.

38. If you think, talking to local Indians is an exam of the mind, well...that is the truth.

39. Be as cordial as you can when you bump into old women.

40. The Indian policemen look really tough but they are actually very nice people. Just don't mess with them. You don't want an AK gun pointing at you in the middle of nowhere.

41. If you're in Varanasi, you can request to be blessed by a priest for a donation of less than 500 rupees. Don't over do it. Once is enough.

42. Should you have more time, Varanasi to the border of Nepal is just a less than 8 hours away. A few more hours, and you'll get to see Mt. Everest more up close.

43. India is exotic because even for Asia, it's totally different.

44. Local Indian men love Caucasian women. Hassling is a possibility.



45. People shave their heads in Varanasi when someone from his/her family died or if he/she is a sinner. I am the latter.

46. Waking up before Sunrise in India is the most perfect time to get a feel of the market.

47. Watch your step. You might just step on cow poop, spit, dead rat or rotten biryani.

48. Not all Indian people are cons. 

49. Slumdog Millionaire is partly honest and partly exaggerated.

Expect the worst when traveling to India. You will be surprised how it's not so bad after all. I promise.




"The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined." ~~~ Mark Twain

28 Comments:

Ed said...

Galing ng tips na toh. I miss these types of entries in your blog! haha. I'll get back on this page once I visit India!

Sayang, was ready pa naman to dance (literally) sa Immigration.

kemang said...

i cant wait jerik ! ;)

blissfulguro said...

can't wait for the next one! :)

Eric said...

Thanks for the tips, eventually, northern part of India is a nice place than staying in the central part..I am talking about hills and valleys.

Ay kala ko totoo yung sing and dance part. Kanta ako ng dayang dayang sana hehe :D

Yung #27 ang isa sa mga points na i'm wondering if it still exists. Meron pa rin pala till now. I want to meet sana mga tao from those 5 classifications. Where you able to do so? Suggest ko gawa ka ng blog entry. :)

And Varanasi. Hmmmm... Wah i wanna go!

I agree with no. 43 - India is exotic because even for Asia, it's totally different. No wonder however complicated, different and worst it is, many are still fascinated with India because of those things as well as the way India it is.

Ding said...

Cool! Definitely one in my bucket list! I love this blog post! Now, where is Part 2? LOL!

chris said...

i would love to go there na talaga after reading your posts

thanks for this post! great tips here. :) i like the one about not leaving without a sari..

Gary said...

wala naman bang hassle when u do visa on arrival? this is definitely one of the countries i am planning to visit next year

@Ed Ewan ko na sa immigration. Ano trip nila, puwede naman in 10 mins tapos pero pinapatagal talaga nila. Oookaaay. he he

@kemang When's your trip again? I messaged you about Perhentians. When is the best time to go to the beach. Would love to visit the islands real soon!

@blissfulguro This months is the busiest month at work so i haven't written anything. Eto na ang pinaka-todong backlog. Patay ako. hehehehe :(

@Eric I know. I've been hearing so much rave reviews about the northern part. If it were only safe to go up to the border of Pakistan, i would be there. Was planning to pack winter stuff pa naman. :( Kaso red alert when i went there.

@Micamyx|Senyorita hehe pareho kayo ni Ed! hehe Pero yes, riding the bus pa lang makikilala mo na iba't ibang klase. pero best in history and culture kasi ako, so kelangan ko pa pag-arala ulit system sa India. Varanasi is life-changing. Punta ka soon. Di ka magsisisi.

@Ian | Going Places Isang reaction lang naman ako lagi nung nandun ako... Grabe! Amazed talaga! Eto na pinaka-adventurous na trip ko. Sobrang culture shock!

@Ding Hope to post it real soon. Thanks!

@chris thanks so much! Reading comments like yours make my trip worth it. Cheers!

@tndcallphilippines sobrang dami and sobrang gaganda ng saris, talaga di puwedeng uuwi ka na wala kang binibili kahit isa. Girls would love it for sure.

@Gary Unfortunately, Visa Upon Arrival in India is a bit of a hassle. I found myself waiting for more than an hour. But yeah, atleast wala ng bank certificate and long process acquiring a visa here in Manila. :)

Just be a good person in every place you go..its enough

Amen.

Great tips!Thanks for all the great work.

Thanks to you too!

bookmarked!!

Wow! Chyng, how was your trip to India??? Kuwentooo...

Anonymous said...

Mt Everest is not a few hours away from Varanasi or Kathmandu...You actually have to climb to get to the Base Camp and even walk for 7 days from KTM to Lukla if you won't fly. Ang layo and the climb is rigorous

@Anonymous Been to Kathmandu and the rest of Nepal. Wanted to try out the route going to Lumbini but lack the time. Next time, i would love to go there. Thanks for the tip. Base Camp is impossible for me. :(